MicrowaveXT, JD-800, or original V-synth?

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MicrowaveXT, JD-800, or original V-synth?

Post by SYNbiotic » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:15 pm

So I've narrowed down my first hardware purchase to one of these three synths. I'm a psytrance/Goa producer with a budget of $1000. I am looking for unique, high quality tones but more important for me is the overall workflow and control surface. I'm the kind of guy who likes to sit down and start turning knobs to be surprised and inspired.

I have a full software setup on my computer so I'm looking for something out of my hardware that I cannot get through software... which really boils down to the custom control surface. The music I make requires a lot of real-time tweaking.

And I don't do presets. They will be wiped from the machine when I get it.

My hunch is the V-synth... but the Microwave and the JD-800 have such a robust fan-base that I feel I must consider them as well. I've heard entire Goa albums made from the JD-800 and all those sliders look like heaven. The MicrowaveXT seems like an overall favorite, but I'm curious if there are modern software synths that can stand up to it these days.

Any advice, stories or suggestions (even other synths) would be appreciated.

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Post by tallowwaters » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:25 pm

buy the one you want. start a trend of just buying what you want, that way we might never see these types of threads again.
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Post by gs » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:26 pm

I was not aware that MicrowaveXT had a control surface. It's a module, no?
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Post by SYNbiotic » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:29 pm

Um, I don't know which one I want... hence the post. I don't have the ability to test-drive each one, so I'm asking folks who have more comparision knowledge than me. I wasn't aware these kinds of questions were all that tedious or off-limits.

The MicrowaveXT has a robust control surface... like 40 knobs.

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Post by Entropy Farmer » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:56 pm

tallowwaters wrote:buy the one you want. start a trend of just buying what you want, that way we might never see these types of threads again.
I really don't understand your problem with these threads. If you feel they're cluttering up general then add a new forum section for them - there's certainly enough volume of and merit in this sort of discussion to justify it.

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Post by Jack Spider » Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:46 pm

Before this turns into another roadhouse brawl, Tallow's offered practical advice - certainly more practical than some of the advice that's been passed on here lately! :wink:

Entropy - you have to understand that just because you don't get ticked off by 'what should I buy' threads, it doesn't mean that others don't. And frankly, there have been an awful lot of late - and this isn't a pop at anyone who has started one.

And before anyone asks, no - there isn't a law against starting them, but I would encourage anyone who's trying to narrow down a purchase to have a good dig around the net - seek out audio demos, videos, reviews or even downloading the manual where possible.

It's far more rewarding than asking for subjective advice, as 'what should I buy' threads often throw up more questions than they answer! :shock:

Synbiotic - these might help in your decision:

Microwave XT - a great page from our very own Carbon111:

http://www.carbon111.com/mwxt.html

Roland JD-800 - a cracking review (and clips) from Bluesynths: (you'll need to register, but it's free)

http://www.bluesynths.com/modules.php?n ... tent&id=20

V-Synth - a detailed Sound on Sound review:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may03/a ... vsynth.asp
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Post by SYNbiotic » Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:54 pm

Thank you for the links, Jack. I will dig in and research further.

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Post by Hugo76 » Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:23 pm

SYNbiotic;
I have no hands-on experience with the jd or the xt, but I do own the V-Synth. I'm having a hard time imagining you'd be disappointed with the V-Synth.
Consider this:
Unique sample tools (at least in the hw world)
Mindbending controllers; d-beams, timetrip pad, plenty of knobs
Programmable arpeggiator
VA-synthesis
etc

The V-Synth is by far the easiest synth I've ever played, still it's the most advanced.
The only downside as I see it, is actually the controllers; the ttpad and d-beams are so cool to play with, it sometimes hard to get any real 'work' done.

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:47 pm

SYNbiotic wrote:I am looking for unique, high quality tones but more important for me is the overall workflow and control surface. I'm the kind of guy who likes to sit down and start turning knobs to be surprised and inspired.

[snip]

The music I make requires a lot of real-time tweaking.

And I don't do presets. They will be wiped from the machine when I get it.

My hunch is the V-synth...
I believe your hunch is correct, especially if you play live. I can't say if it will suit your personal taste, you'll only know that by playing with all your options, but the V-Synth is full of unique sounds and tweakability. The original keyboard version is a huge bargain at the moment, if I didn't already have one I'd buy one in a minute.

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Post by OriginalJambo » Wed Oct 31, 2007 12:02 am

The sound of the JD-800 oozes high quality and should be suited to your style. However it's a bit limited compared to "real" synths that have sync, PWM, ring modulation or let you load your own samples. It's basically a completely programmable ROMpler.

Having said that, it is quite cheap now and has lots of sliders to manipulate the multitude of modulations you can set - there are some pretty uncommon options including envelope rate keyboard tracking and LFO amplitude fade in. Also the inclusion of multiband filters (the digital filters on it are superb by way) and the included effects are big bonuses - especially that distortion that'll give you great guitar leads.

The V-Synth is impressive and a lot more flexible, but it's double the cash (over here anyway) and you'd maybe not use the extra features.

I can't really comment on the Microwave as I haven't had any experience with one.

Try and demo them if possible - you should be able to check out the new V-Synth and that'll give you an idea of what the original is capable of.

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Post by carbon111 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 12:18 am

gs wrote:I was not aware that MicrowaveXT had a control surface. It's a module, no?
Yes it is...but it probably works better on a desktop:

Image

...and here's the CCs the knobs transmit:

Image
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Re: MicrowaveXT, JD-800, or original V-synth?

Post by Huppo » Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:48 am

SYNbiotic wrote:I am looking for unique, high quality tones but more important for me is the overall workflow and control surface. I'm the kind of guy who likes to sit down and start turning knobs to be surprised and inspired.
Hey...I own an XT and an original V-synth. I've never played a JD-800, but I agree it looks like fun to tweak with all those sliders!

Based on what you've said here I am going to second others suggestion that you look towards a V-synth. You will get some weird surprises and inspiration from turning knobs and pushing sliders on a V-synth since it does things to sampled sounds that no other synth does. It's even hard to imagine how it works if you haven't played around with one. The key is that is separates the formant info, the element of time and the element of pitch from a sound and allows you to manipulate them simultaneously but separately as you might with any other element of a sound; with envelopes and LFOs, playing dynamics, etc.

But the thing that stands the synth ahead of others for me is the sheer expressiveness available through the various controls. It has a great feeling key action with nearly perfect aftertouch response (opinion), plenty of knobs and sliders, a large lcd control screen which you actually can touch to control things, Roland's usual pitch/mod stick, a large touchpad that you can assign to all sorts of parameters and easily use in more than one way, plus two D-beam controllers for "hands off" control. There's also inputs for expression pedals and so forth, though I have not used them.

You can use all this stuff to deliver nuance to realistic sounding instruments but you can also use it to gain unprecedented nuanced control of really strange things, too. It still brings a smile to my face when I make a tense, claw-like hand and pretend to grab the D-beams only to have a shrill, flighty, warbling sound painfully grind to a groaning and screeching halt as I tighten my grip on the light from the blue LEDs...and then fly away unharmed when I "let go" of it just as though it were a soundtrack from a sci-fi movie or something. If that's not a fun and inspirational control surface, I don't know what is. I'm no V-synth guru by any means, but I know this thing is a flat out blast to play and makes sounds I wouldn't even think of trying to reproduce on anything else.

You can surely get some fascinating sounds from the XT, but it's going to take more thought and the the interface is "just" a bunch of knobs. And even though the ability to torment/modulate the original sounds from the Wavetable you choose on the XT is extensive, it doesn't let you wrangle the sounds on the same elemental level the V-synth does. That said, you can't get better info and advocacy for the XT from anyone other than Carbon111, so listen to him rather than me.
~huppo

Please feel free to add me to your Foes list.

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Post by tallowwaters » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:05 am

Entropy Farmer wrote:
tallowwaters wrote:buy the one you want. start a trend of just buying what you want, that way we might never see these types of threads again.
I really don't understand your problem with these threads. If you feel they're cluttering up general then add a new forum section for them - there's certainly enough volume of and merit in this sort of discussion to justify it.
this used to be a place for intelligent discussion. now its a dump where people ask us questions about how we should spend their money.

let me give some examples of why web opinions are s**t-

people would normally agree that an XT would be better than a Fizmo. I hated the XT and loved the Fizmo.

people told me that a more modern rack sampler would be a better ideal than a huge clunky 2 meg beast. i still love that 2 meg beast, and flogged that rack off real quick

some people honestly recommend ART gear. that s**t is junk

people quite firmly believe the SR16 is dated c**p, yet they are shelling out 1,000s for synths from the 70s. I would never toss my sr16s, but i would have little use for any of those highly desirable synths, other then to sell them and buy my girlfriend stuff.

now, i can clue you in a little more. when i started out making music, i didnt have s**t, i didnt have anybody to help. i had to record band rehearsal on a broken karaoke machine with a casio ctk. we didnt even have a real drum set, but rather a high chair, various buckets, a few stolen cymbals and saw blades lodged on pool cue with bricks tape to them. we sawed off croquet mallet handles to use as drum sticks. the mic stand was a pitchfork jammed into the ground with homemade mic/telephone duck taped to it. we all played out of the same amp. eventually we upgraded to a tascam, then a reel to reel, then finally to digital. my setup is much more impressive now (though not bloated) and our skills as musicians and recording have grown.

not once, with a few exceptions recently, did i ever need advice. h**l, its hard to believe i used to do all this s**t before i ever had internet access. i had to f**k dig, i had to hang out at the pawn shop, i had to talk to people that *gasp* made different music then me. I had to play live with no f**k clue and i have had to repair gear without ever having touched a soldering iron.

as such, i take great respect in the fact that i earned my knowledge without treating an internet forum like a place to personally dump any question i didnt have the gumption to turn out myself. its ridiculous to expect people to hold your hand. do the research. h**l, you have a h**l of a lot more to find then i did, which was even more then the older studio gurus around here had when they started. you wont find any satisfaction thinking inside the "goa producers need an XT" box. none. you will buy it, and you will use it for what the h**l ever goa needs and thats it.

f**k all that. i am going to take a stand now, because i know there are tons of people that have the same story as me. no computer, no information readily available, and no large community to parent you through these choices. you are just going to have to do it for yourself folks, otherwise you are just going to be a revolving door of untapped gear. you are going to listen to dancing words on a pixelated screen other than the electric signals pulsing through your own frigging body. I t would be different if you people were coming here saying "i have a big problem fellas. my wife f**k my friend and i dont what i should do" but you people are coming here saying "i am going to the carniceria for frozen bars, should i get arroz con leche or tamarindo?" which, quite frankly would be intensely more interesting to discuss right now
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Post by sizzlemeister » Wed Oct 31, 2007 3:23 am

tallowwaters wrote:It would be different if you people were coming here saying "i have a big problem fellas. my wife f**k my friend and i dont what i should do" but you people are coming here saying "i am going to the carniceria for frozen bars, should i get arroz con leche or tamarindo?" which, quite frankly would be intensely more interesting to discuss right now
Haha! Good one.

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Post by SYNbiotic » Wed Oct 31, 2007 4:34 am

In defense of my question, I believe I had the parameters narrowed down enough to inspire some thoughtful discussion. This wasn't some "dood i need a synth wat should i buy i like tarnce" question... I had some specific concerns and wanted some intelligent opinions from those who were in the know.

I was hoping to hear something along the lines like "The JD-800 is a great synth, but they are getting old and you might have trouble getting it serviced if it breaks down." or "The MicrowaveXT is a classic, but these days there are software synths that shred it and the knobs aren't all that."

Instead I got moderator grief for asking a stupid question... when apparently a good question would have been one totally off topic and having nothing to do with synths. C'mon now, at least Jack was nice even though he wasn't a fan of the question and kept up a somewhat hospitable environment.

I happen to really enjoy synth comparison threads. I love hearing people who are stoked on a particular synth tell me why. When I lerk on synth forums and hear multiple accounts of people salivating over their particular Waldorfs, Korgs or Rolands, I take notice and it affects my purchasing decisions and how much research I should put into it. It's because of these types of threads that I narrowed my search down to these three synths in the first place.

Yes, I have done extensive web reading on these synths. I know their ins and outs as well I can without actually playing one. This forum question was a last effort to hear some real down-to-earth subjectivity, something that's different from articles and reviews written by folks who play synths as a journalistic job instead of a productive musician. You know... stuff that forums are good for.

And apparently over 200 people thought it was a somewhat interesting topic as well, so far.

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